The First ConversationMature

It was hard to judge time in this sunless, underground world, but Elena could guess from the setting of the light strips in the tunnel outside her window that it was mid-morning when she woke up. It looked like she'd missed breakfast in her exhaustion and so, resigning herself to wait a few hours, she went over to the chair and began to stretch.

It was impossible to carry on without food for long - after just over an hour, Elena stopped and lay down on her shelf. That was the first time she noticed the security camera in one corner of the room. Either they had put it in while she was sleeping, or she was less observant than she had realised; staring at it, she realised that this master, whoever he was, already knew all about her.

"Lunch." It was the younger servant who opened the door this time, smiling shyly. He wasn't a bad sort, she thought - she could easily have been friends with him, under different circumstances. "You - you must be h-hungry, y-yes?" On hearing his stammer she felt a sudden rush of sympathy for this boy.

"I am," she replied, taking the food. It was still bread and water, but they'd had the generosity to provide her with a carrot. It had been peeled and sliced, too. Well, at least I won't get scurvy, she thought. Or are carrots just Vitamin A?

The boy waited until she had finished, then asked, "Why do  y-you dance?" He looked at the chair as though it was something magical, and she laughed gently.

"I dance because I have nothing else I can do. If I didn't, I would get bored and go mad. It is either dance or sit on the shelf and stare at the wall. Which would you rather do?"

"D-dance, of c-c-course. But I don't know how," he added, staring at her. "I've never seen anybody like you before. You're so bendy."

"Am I?" asked Elena, smiling. "There are people far more flexible than me. They have been dancing for longer. But I suppose I am more flexible than normal folk." She sat down on the bed again. "Do I get to meet this leader of yours at any point?"

"I don't know." The boy was suddenly frightened. "He - he comes to you. When he wants to." It seemed that if he spoke quickly, he no longer had a stammer. "But he doesn't like it if people talk about him.

"Very well." Elena crossed her legs; the boy looked guilty and turned to leave the room. She realised that he would get in trouble if the master chose to report him to his superiors. "I'll see you later?"

"Maybe," he said, and dashed off down the corridor. Elena watched the door close and for the first time it occurred to her that it might not have been locked at all. Maybe they were relying on the old mind trick, the fact that you're so certain it will be locked you don't even try? She got up and pushed it, but it didn't move.

"Locked, then," she said aloud,  and looked back at her chair. Somehow she couldn't face any more barre work, not now. She did a few warm-up stretches and leaped across the room, but found that she could only perform one jump before she was up against a wall again. "Well, that's no good. How am I meant to dance in a room like this?" She had quite forgotten that she was a prisoner.

Having given up, Elena sat down once more and looked at her feet. They were hard and muscular, but she knew that it wasn't difficult to make them ache from the dancing. If she had to run to get out of here, she'd not last long at all.

The End

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